• Next California's Big One could kill hundreds, cause $100 billion in losses, trap 20,000 in elevators

    What will happen when the next big earthquake hits northern California? Researchers say that if a tremor similar in magnitude to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake were to hit today, it could kill 800 people, cause more than $100 billion in economic losses from the shaking and subsequent fires, and trap roughly 20,000 people in elevators across northern California.

  • The HayWired scenario: a major earthquake in the San Francisco Bay area

    Last week the USGS, along with approximately sixty partners, released a new fact sheet that summarizes a report from a larger study of what could happen during a major earthquake in the San Francisco Bay area along the Hayward Fault – arguably one of the most urbanized and interconnected areas in the nation. Earthquakes pose a threat to the safety of more than 143 million people living in the United States, and estimated long-term annualized earthquake losses in the United States are more than $6.1 billion per year.

  • Coastal surveillance benefits from enterprise information sharing

    Initially, DHS S&T wanted to empower maritime responders with better surveillance technology. Adding more radars and cameras alone was expected to make the difference, but further evaluation of the input from operational sponsors told a different story—it extended the benchmark for what S&T was asked to provide. Today, the Integrated Maritime Domain Enterprise - Coastal Surveillance System (IMDE-CSS) has evolved well beyond the initial information-gathering requirement into an information-sharing capability.

  • Hackers can steal data via power lines

    Researchers have shown once again that air-gapped PCs are not safe from a determined and patient attacker. The researchers have already devised several techniques to extract data from isolated or air-gapped computers that store highly sensitive data.

  • Planning for hurricanes as weather patterns change

    We’re all aware of the impact of intense weather systems that make headlines, like 2017’s hurricanes Harvey and Irma. But even slight adjustments to weather patterns—like historic changes in precipitation levels and the increasing frequency of heat waves—can drastically change living conditions.

  • Inside a secretive lobbying effort to deregulate federal levees

    Nearly a year after record Midwestern floods killed at least five people and caused $1.7 billion in damage, a secretive lobbying effort funded by Illinois and Missouri drainage districts is underway to roll back flood regulations, documents show.

  • Monitoring dams to protect Kentucky water front communities

    Out of the approximately 90,000 dams in the United States, roughly 90 percent are state, municipal or privately-owned. That makes two-thirds of the dams in America—regulating the flow of canals, generating power and protecting communities from flooding—subject to greater variation in safety standards and disaster preparedness than the rest.

  • Now that Russia has apparently hacked America’s grid, shoring up security is more important than ever

    Hackers taking down the U.S. electricity grid may sound like a plot ripped from a Bruce Willis action movie, but the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI recently disclosed that Russia has infiltrated “critical infrastructure” like American power plants, water facilities and gas pipelines. There is no time to waste in shoring up the grid’s security. Yet getting that done is not easy, as I’ve learned through my research regarding efforts in to stave off outages in hurricane-prone Florida.

  • Federal funding moves ShakeAlert closer to reality

    A recent boost in federal funding will move the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system closer to completion. The omnibus spending package allocates $12.9 million for continued development and limited public rollout of the system. It also appropriates $10 million for capital costs to add more earthquake sensors and improve system infrastructure.

  • Predicting East Coast hurricane flooding risks

    A model developed at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory will soon make its debut in the real world, helping to characterize and predict the paths and impacts of hurricanes on the East Coast.

  • Shoring up beaches by just adding sand

    New research is shedding light on how mechanically placed sand on San Diego County beaches moves and its potential impacts. The study could help planners develop beach nourishment projects that will reach their intended goals without causing unintended problems.

  • Space weather threatens high-tech life

    In September 1859, parts of the United States were crippled by a fierce space weather storm. Today’s even more sensitive electronics and satellites would be devastated should an event of that magnitude occur again. In 2008, a panel of experts commissioned by the National Academy of Sciences issued a detailed report with a sobering conclusion: The world would be thrown back to the life of the early 1800s, and it would take years – or even a decade – to recover from an event that large.

  • Pulling valuable metals from e-waste makes economic sense

    Electronic waste — including discarded televisions, computers and mobile phones — is one of the fastest-growing waste categories worldwide. For years, recyclers have gleaned usable parts, including metals, from this waste stream. That makes sense from a sustainability perspective, but it’s been unclear whether it’s reasonable from an economic viewpoint. Now researchers report that recovering gold, copper and other metals from e-waste is cheaper than obtaining these metals from mines.

  • Outgoing U.S. national security adviser: West has “failed to impose sufficient costs” on Russia

    Outgoing White House national security adviser H. R. McMaster has called for stronger measures against Russian “threats” and “provocations,” arguing that Russian President Vladimir Putin is mistaken in thinking the West will not push back against the Kremlin’s “hybrid warfare.” The comments were some of the strongest to date on Russia by McMaster, whose last day at the White House will be next week.

  • Artificial levees on Mississippi River dramatically increased extreme floods

    A new study has revealed for the first time the last 500-year flood history of the Mississippi River. It shows a dramatic rise in the size and frequency of extreme floods in the past century—mostly due to projects to straighten, channelize, and bound the river with artificial levees. The new research also uncovered a clear pattern over the centuries linking flooding on the Mississippi with natural fluctuations of Pacific and Atlantic Ocean water temperatures.